by KC Carlson
HOW’S THIS FOR TIMING? – Just a few days ago, we were all stunned by the announcement that Lucasfilm (and all that’s attached) had been acquired by The Walt Disney Company, so that George Lucas could retire as the wealthiest nerd on the planet (or is that Bill Gates? I forget). Then Previews shows up and the first thing in it is the announcement that Dark Horse is reviving the original Star Wars concepts (Luke, Leia, Han, Chewie, silly robots, Vader, Death Star) in a new ongoing Star Wars comic book. It’s written by Brian Wood (Conan the Barbarian), drawn by Carlos D’Anda (Batman: Arkham City), and features new painted covers by Alex Ross (Everything)! I could tell you more about it but Roger just interviewed Brian Wood, and that interview will be posted here on Tuesday.
MARS ATTACKS EVERYTHING – IDW has an interesting stunt going on in January — although I’m not sure how clear-headed it is. There are going to be five different Mars Attacks Specials. In each issue, the Martians attack a different IDW book. Here’s the list:
That sounds fun, but here’s the confusing part. Each of those books will have two additional incentive cover versions featuring other comic properties, some of them not published by IDW. Here’s that list:
Mars Attacks Miss Fury
Mars Attacks Opus
Mars Attacks Judge Dredd
Mars Attacks Star Slammers
Mars Attacks Chew
Mars Attacks Madman
Mars Attacks Spike
Mars Attacks Strangers in Paradise
Mars Attacks ROG-2000
Mars Attacks Cerebus
Most of these covers will be drawn by their creators, or artists closely associated with the characters.
But what happens if somebody buys a copy of Mars Attacks Star Slammers with the intent to read it and gets home to find out the interiors are Mars Attacks KISS? (Although I’m not sure that this would ever happen, since I don’t see that many incentive covers on the racks in the stores that I frequent. Most require that incentives be pre-ordered.) I’d love to get Mars Attacks Cerebus (cover by Dave Sim!), but I have zero interest in the contents, Mars Attacks Zombies vs. Robots. At least the Mars Attacks Opus cover (by Berkeley Breathed) has Mars Attacks Popeye guts. That kinda makes sense if you think about it hard. I’d probably get that one.
This stunt is too good to waste on a crass moneygrab. Why not do a big Mars Attacks… Cover Collection (like the similar Hero Initiative projects), maybe with lots of other creators and characters participating? And maybe the profits could go to the Red Cross or some other disaster relief agency? It could be called Mars Saves America! That would be a lot better than thinking that IDW was just being greedy with a great idea.
Speaking of IDW, Popeye #9 has an incentive cover by the legendary MAD artist Al Jaffee . . . Michael Golden and G.I. Joe fans should check out the 23-print Michael Golden’s G.I. Joe Yearbook: Artist’s Edition Portfolio, with faithful reproductions of the original art from that classic G.I. Joe special . . . John Byrne has a new four-issue miniseries from IDW called The High Ways, about a young man’s adventures on an intergalactic cargo freighter throughout the Solar System.
DC COMICS – Threshold #1 is a new title featuring a team of New 52 space heroes called the Hunted. They include the Star Rovers, Star Hawkins, Space Cabbie, Tom Tomorrow, Captain K’Rot, and Star Ranger. (Somehow, I think most of these are going to be quite different from the originals; what do you think?) The series is written by Keith Giffen with art by Tom Raney, and the first issue features everyone’s favorite Orange Lantern, Larfleeze, in a back-up story drawn by Scott Kollins. You might also want to pick up Green Lantern Corps Annual #1 for the first actual appearance of the Hunted team.
Pretty much everything else interesting going on in the New 52 is currently being told in crossover “events”. For your ease of ordering, here’s a handy checklist, so you can get (or avoid) them all:
DEATH OF THE FAMILY
THRONE OF ATLANTIS
H’EL ON EARTH
RISE OF THE THIRD ARMY
THE BLACK DIAMOND PROBABILITY
Chopping Block: Another round of New 52 cancellations this month. Say goodbye to Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. (#16), Grifter (#16), Blue Beetle (#16), and Legion Lost (#16). What’s not ahead for the New 52? Possibly Firestorm: The Nuclear Men; Hawkman; I, Vampire; Deathstroke; Demon Knights; and the anthology title, DC Universe Presents. Those are currently DC’s low sellers. Watch for some of them to be revamped or cancelled over the next few months.
Personal Note: It makes me very sad to see that one of the books that DC’s pushing hard this month (based on the cover of their Direct Currents section) is a tie-in to a video game (Injustice: Gods Among Us). It really is a “New” DC. Why not just take the final step and change the name of the company to Synergy Comics? (Or should that be Synergy Entertainment? Oops. That’s already taken…)
MARVEL COMICS: Currently, Marvel has only a couple of regular comics series numbered over #20. A few of them don’t really count as long-running, as they were just recently retitled (Dark Avengers, Red She-Hulk) or published most of their issues on an accelerated schedule (Daredevil, Wolverine and the X-Men). For high numbers, that leaves Secret Avengers (canceled in January, probably restarted in February), Venom (also produced on an super-accelerated schedule), X-Factor (seemingly on track for a completely different direction — and possible renumbering?), X-Men, and Journey Into Mystery. That one continues from its original series numbering, but it’s actually only been around for a couple of years. With a new direction starting (starring Sif), logically, it could (should?) have been restarted. That means Astonishing X-Men (at #58 in January) is now the longest continuously running Marvel title under its current numbering.
My point being (admittedly, a long road to get there), wasn’t it just a little over a year ago when lots of Marvel folks were making fun of DC for restarting their entire superhero line at #1? Isn’t that where Marvel kinda is right now? Only without admitting it?
Granted, there are a couple of major differences. First, Marvel’s changeover was spread out over several months, relieving ordering pressure on both retailers and consumers. Even more important (at least to me, many long-time readers, and to comic book history as well) — Marvel didn’t jettison all of its continuity for a “do-over”.
I can’t get too upset over the industry practice of continually restarting series at #1. It’s been going on now for a very long time, and the advantages are too good to be ignored (increased sales and attention, good “jumping on” point, etc.). As long-time Marvel readers know, the next time a major anniversary issue comes up (either an actual calendar anniversary or a “100” issue), the title’s numbering will most likely revert back to the old value (or something close… Marvel has miscounted a couple of times), at least until they “reboot” the numbering back to #1 again.
Yes, it is confusing. And yes, it would be nice if publishers included both numbers (current and ongoing) somewhere in the comic itself. But confusing comic book numbering has been with us in comics since the Golden Age, where publishers would occasionally skip issue numbers or keep the numbering consecutive while changing the title (and/or the contents) to something completely different.
At least I can usually understand the modern way of doing it. And really, what fun is a hobby if it doesn’t frustrate the hell out of you every so often? After all, at the end of the day, the different restarts and/or volumes of a long-running series all go in the same comics box anyway.
With that, here are this month’s Marvel Now! changes:
“New” comics being launched this month
Sounds like there’s a new guy in the Spidey-suit in this new “Superior” series. Wonder who it is? (And wonder why Marvel is reprinting Amazing Spider-Man #692 as Alpha #0.1 this month? Hmm.) So, are we in for a Parker-less MU? Should be interesting, especially since Spidey and Mary Jane are back together in #2. But who’s Spidey? . . . Not such a big fan of Morbius, but I would buy a Baby Morbius: The Living Vampire series (see variant cover). Adorable! . . . Why are Wolverine and Storm kissing on the cover of Wolverine & the X-Men #24? I’m guessing their braces got magnetized by Storm’s lightning, and, well, there you go . . . Peter David’s X-Factor has been a very good read for the last several issues, with special attention paid to resolving long-time personal issues of the characters. Issue #250 both ends and starts something. You might want to check that out . . . Other great new-ish series if you like character: Hawkeye and Captain Marvel. . . Some of my favorite Hulk stories over the decades have been Hulk vs. S.H.I.E.L.D. battles. Check out Indestructible Hulk #3 for a modern-day tale in “Hulk: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.!” . . . Deadpool is parodying Classics Illustrated in Deadpool: Killustrated #1 (of 4). Deadpool takes on Moby Dick! (I put money on the whale!)
THE AMERICAN COMIC BOOK CHRONICLES: THE 1980s: TwoMorrows’ first volume (the 1960s) of this great new comics history series has been slightly delayed (for good reason — they’re wisely adding an Index). But the second volume, covering the complacency-shattering 1980s, is still on track for January, written by Keith Dallas. This volume has everything from the fall of Jim Shooter at Marvel mid-decade to the rise of DC Comics in the later years. And a new wave of indy publishers (Dark Horse, Eclipse, First, Pacific, Comico, and more!) launch. And new superstar creators, including Frank Miller, Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman and Grant Morrison, debut. Plus, the first “event” comics, with Secret Wars and Crisis On Infinite Earths leading the way. The 1980s were one of the most exciting eras of American comic books. (I should know, I lived through it, and I loved everything about it.) This book will tell you why . . . Speaking of TwoMorrows, 3-D fans should not miss the all-3-D Alter Ego #115, covering all the early 3-D comics, plus an in-depth article by 3-D expert Ray Zone detailing the history and mechanics of the process. Plus, free 3-D glasses!
CLASSIC COMIC BOOK COLLECTIONS
ACG Collected Works: Adventures Into the Unknown Volume 4 (PS Artbooks). Collecting issues #16-20 from February to June 1951. 288-page color hardcover.
Adventures Into the Unknown Archives: Volume 2 (Dark Horse). Collecting issues #5-8 of comics’ first ongoing anthology of supernatural horror! Includes work by Richard E. Hughes, Johnny Craig, John Celardo, Bob Lubbers, and more. Forward by Bruce Jones. 244-page color hardcover.
Adventures of Superman: Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez (DC). This book falls slightly outside of our time parameters for these listings, but you’ll kick yourself if you miss this collection of one of the greatest (and unfairly unsung) Superman artists. Collecting Superman #294, 301, 302, 307-309, and 347, DC Comics Presents #1-4 and 17, and the tabloid All-New Collector’s Edition C-54. 360-page color hardcover. Bob Greenberger will tell you more about why this collection is so great, right here at the Westfield Blog.
Archie Archives: Volume 8 (Dark Horse). More early adventures of America’s favorite teenagers. Collects Archie Comics #26-28, Archie material from Pep Comics #62-64, and Laugh Comics #23-24. Includes work by Bill Vigoda, Irv Novick, Bill Woggen, and Al Fagaly. Forward by Michael Uslan. 240-page color hardcover.
Buck Rogers in the 25th Century: The Western Publishing Years Volume 1 (Hermes Press). Collecting all eight issues of the tie-in comic to the cheesy 1979 TV show. (Hi, Twiki!) Written by Paul S. Newman and drawn by Frank Bolle, Al McWilliams, and Ray Bailey. Plus, a 1964 Buck Rogers stand-alone Gold Key comic and lots of extras! 224-page color hardcover.
Crime Does Not Pay Archives: Volume 4 (Dark Horse). Collecting issues #34-37 of this head-walloping, classic, true-crime comic book from the Golden Age. Features work by Dick Wood, Lev Gleason, Charles Biro, Dick Briefer, and others. 264-page color hardcover.
Harvey Horrors: Chamber of Chills Volume 2 Softies (PS Artbooks). Reprinting all the comics from the hardcover edition (issues #6-10), but without the supporting material. Just the comics, Ma’am. 160-page color softcover.
Harvey Horrors Collected Works: Witches Tales Volume 4 (PS Artbooks). Collecting issues #22-28 from December 1953 to December 1954. Introduction by James Longrove, who wrote many of the original stories in this volume. This is the final volume! Goodbye, witches! 288-page color hardcover.
Marvel Firsts: WWII Super Heroes (Marvel). Extending the Marvel Firsts concept — backwards! (It’s the Mighty Marvel way!) Collecting the best Golden Age stories of Marvel’s greatest, including Captain America, Sub-Mariner, Human Torch, Black Marvel, Miss America, the Whizzer, Laughing Mask, and the Ferret! Featuring top Golden Age talent such as Joe Simon & Jack Kirby, Bill Everett, Stan Lee, Otto Binder, Carl Burgos, Syd Shores, and more — in one huge volume! 456-page color softcover!
Marvel Masterworks: The Incredible Hulk Volume 7 (Marvel). Collecting The Incredible Hulk #135-144, Avengers #88, and Marvel Super-Heroes #16) by (mostly) Roy Thomas and Herb Trimpe. It’s the early era of Doc Sampson, and the Hulk battles with Dr. Doom, Kang the Conqueror, the Phantom Eagle, the Abomination, and Psyklop (whose name always makes me smile — it’s so dumb!). But we also get the first appearance of the Hulk’s long-lost love Jarella (written by Harlan Ellison), one of THE classic Hulk stories. 256-page color hardcover.
Marvel Masterworks: Doctor Strange Volume 2 (Marvel). Now in affordable softcover! Collecting the Dr. Strange stories from Strange Tales #143-163. It’s the last of the classic Stan Lee/Steve Ditko era, and the beginning of the era that will transition Dr. Strange into the the Defenders. Includes work by Roy Thomas, Denny O’Neil, Bill Everett, Marie Severin, Dan Adkins, and others. May the Vishanti smile upon us all! 256-page color softcover.
Messages in a Bottle: Comic Book Stories by B. Krigstein (Fantagrapics). Collecting 41 classic comic stories from a variety of publishers, including his extraordinary work for E.C. (featuring the all-time great “Master Race”). Also includes extensive annotation and original art reproduction of one of comics’ master artists. 272-page color softcover.
The Phantom: The Complete Series: The Charlton Years Volume 2 (Hermes Press). Reprints issues #39-47 from the early 1970s by Joe Gill and Pat Boyette. Digitally remastered adventures of the Ghost Who Walks! 224-page color hardcover.
Roy Thomas Presents the Heap Volume 3 (PS Artbooks). Just how does Roy Thomas present the Heap? With some fava beans and a nice chianti? We’ll probably never know, but this book features wall-to-wall Heap! Roy writes the intro. Mike Ploog draws a new cover. 240-page color hardcover. It’s Heaparrific!
Showcase Presents: Sgt. Rock Volume 4 (DC). Collecting the Sgt. Rock stories from Our Army At War #181-216, mostly drawn by the late, great Joe Kubert! All stories (including a Johnny Cloud crossover) are written by Robert Kanigher, and artists Russ Heath and Jack Abel provide occasional contributions. 520-page B&W softcover.
Silver Age Teen Titans Archives Volume 2 (DC): Collecting issues #6-20 of the original Silver Age run of the series, where you’ll meet the Mad Mod, the Scorcher, and Captain Rumble! Seriously! You’ll get some outstanding stories as well, like “The TT’s Swingin’ Christmas Carol!” (#13), “Requiem for a Titan!” (#14), “The Dimensional Caper!” (#16 – Great cover!), and the controversial “Titans Fit the Battle of Jericho” (#20) by Marv Wolfman and Len Wein (uncredited), Neal Adams, and Nick Cardy. Read more about it here. The bulk of the stories here are written by Bob Haney and feature amazing artwork (especially the covers) by Nick Cardy. 400-page color hardcover. Bob Greenberger has more, soon at the Westfield Blog.
Steve Ditko’s Monsters: Volume 1: Gorgo (IDW/Yoe Books). If you love Godzilla, you’ll love Gorgo! Instead of trashing Tokyo, Gorgo attacks London, New York, and Hollywood! He doesn’t care who he fights — aliens, atomic bombs, the British Navy, and worst of all — Communists! Over 200 pages of Ditko monsters (including covers!) from the artist at his prime! Written by Joe Gill, intro and info by Craig Yoe. 224-page color hardcover.
The Unauthorized Tarzan (Dark Horse). Now, this is interesting. Believing Tarzan had fallen into public domain, Charlton Comics began a new series called Jungle Tales of Tarzan in 1964, written by Joe Gill and drawn by Sam Glanzman and others. Only four issues were published before the “cease and desist” came, and most of the original print runs were destroyed. Dark Horse is now collecting all four issues in both a 112-page, color, limited (to 250 copies) edition, including a tip-in plate signed by Glanzman, and a regular hardcover. Both versions include never-before-seen Tarzan comic strips by Glanzman and historical essays.
Wally Wood’s Eerie Tales of Crime and Horror (Vanguard). Companion volume to the previous Wally Wood’s Strange Worlds of Science Fiction, except with more, um, crime and horror tales. Has all the Wood 1950s non-E.C. stories. (If you like Wally Wood, you probably already have them anyway.) 176-page color softcover.
CLASSIC COMIC STRIP COLLECTIONS
The Cisco Kid by Jose Luis Salinas and Rod Reed, Volume 1: 1951-1953 (Classic Comics Press). Based on the classic O. Henry western character, the Cisco Kid starred in a strip that ran for 15 years. This volume collects the first two years by Rod Reed and Jose Luis Salinas, with an introduction by Sergio Aragones, rare Salinas artwork, biographical info, and more! 240-page B&W softcover.
The Complete Funky Winkerbean Volume 1: 1972-1974 (Black Squirrel). Collecting the comic’s first three years, introducing Funky Winkerbean and all his Westview High School pals. Featuring an introduction by creator Tom Batiuk, sharing his early attempts at cartooning, and the genesis of Funky. 486-page B&W hardcover.
Gahan Wilson Sunday Comics (Fantagraphics). Collects for the first time each and every one of Wilson’s little-known syndicated Sunday comics between 1974 and 1976. Wilson explores the horrors of being human, featuring his usual cast of freaks, geeks, and weirdos. Sounds a lot like Westfield. 184-page color hardcover.
Green Eggs and Maakies (Fantagraphics). Another complete two years of Tony Millionaire’s vaudeville-style strip, originally run in dozens of US weekly newspapers. Presented in a deluxe landscape format that complements the strip’s size and style. 120-page B&W hardcover.
Leonard Starr’s Mary Perkins: On Stage Volume 11 (Classic Comics Press). Reprinting dailies and Sundays from November 1, 1970, to June 11, 1972. Pete Fletcher meets Chickie Webb, and Mary works with Hagen Black and meets children’s TV star Mr. Quackers. How can you go wrong? These are gorgeous volumes, lovingly assembled. Intro by Howard Chaykin. 264-page B&W softcover. Plus, this month, all previous 10 volumes are once again available.
Library of American Comics Essentials Volume 2: The Gumps: The Saga of Mary Gold (IDW/LoAC). 1n 1928-29, Gumps creator Sidney Smith created his magnum opus for the strip. “The Saga of Mary Gold” broke new ground for comic strips and changed the relationship between readers and content, due to the shocking ending. For the first time since 1929, the story is collected in its entirety. Hogan’s Alley called it “one of the Ten Biggest Events in Comics History”. 336-page B&W hardcover in a strip-sized format.
Lisa’s Story: The Other Shoe (Black Squirrel). Funky Winkerbean slowly evolved from a gag-a-day strip into one featuring more mature, emotional stories. In 1999, Funky’s friend Lisa discovered that she had breast cancer. After a mastectomy and chemotherapy, she was cancer free. But in 2006, the cancer returned. Lisa’s Story: The Other Shoe collects both storylines as told by Tom Batiuk. 252-page B&W hardcover or softcover.
KC CARLSON: Still patiently waiting for Action Comics #1,000 before I die.
WESTFIELD COMICS is not responsible for the stupid things that KC says. Especially that thing that really irritated you.